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New cycle network opened at family fun day at Haldon Forest

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Over 1000 people enjoyed a family fun day at the Forestry Commission’s Haldon Forest Park on Sunday 19 September.

The event was held to celebrate the official opening of the new Challenge Trail, which has been invested in by the Rural Development Programme for England as part of the 1 South West Project.  The funding has also been used to develop a new Cycle Skills Area, which was also opened at the event and a new Cycle Pump Trail, which will be opening soon.

Sir Harry Studholme, Chairman of the South West Regional Development Agency officially opened the new cycle network on the day.  He also rode the new trail and said:

“It was wonderful to ride through the trees and see so many cyclists of all ages enjoying themselves, taking exercise and connecting with the magic of the woods.  This is the culmination of much hard work, which shows, and he effective use of European funding to support the economy of the countryside while benefiting the health of the country.”

Haldon Forest Park is one of ten sites across the South West to benefit directly from the 1 South West project.  This Forestry Commission led partnership is developing trails, sites and information across the whole region which will enhance the quality of experience for anyone who wants to enjoy off-road cycling. 

There were a number of activities on the day including impressive demonstrations by bike professionals Grant ‘Chopper’ Fielding and Andrei Burton.  Grant also led the first official ride of the new trail, which many riders took part in.  There was also bushcraft sessions for children, facepainting, bike decoration workshops and go ride skills sessions. 

One lucky visitor also took part in the prize draw and won the ‘Haldon experience’, which included bike hire from Forest Cycle Hire, a Go Ape! ticket, a meal for four at The Ridge Cafe, a Discovery Pass, a slow goodie bag from CCANW and a Segways session.

Louise Bell, Haldon Forest Park manager says:

“The event was a great success and we hope people really enjoyed seeing the latest developments here at Haldon.  Over the last few years a great deal of work has been put in to developing the site to create a fantastic resource.  It was great to see so many people here to celebrate the opening of the new 1SW cycle network.”


1. There is something for everyone at Haldon Forest Park.  It is 3.500 acres of woodland, owned by the Forestry Commission, just fifteen minutes from Exeter.  It is open every day and there are a range of walks and all ability trails, cycling trails as well as a wide range of events.  Rangers are on hand daily to give advice and ensure people get the most out of their visit.  In addition Forest Cycle Hire is based at Haldon, hiring out mountain bikes to visitors and facilitating groups of cyclists in the forest.  Haldon Forest Park also hosts Go Ape, an award-winning high wire forest adventure course of rope bridges, tarzan swings and zip slides in the tree tops.  The Ridge Café is open at Malden every day serving a range of delicious, locally sourced food and drink.  The site is also home to the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World, an innovative organisation, which uses the arts to explore new understandings of our place within nature.  They hold regular exhibitions and run educational events.

2. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment.  Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.  Further information can be found at

3. For further information please contact Kirstie Smith, Communications Manager, Forestry Commission on 01392 834249.

The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) runs from 2007 to 2013.  It is the 2nd pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy and aims to support the creation of genuinely sustainable farming, forestry and food sectors, whilst also bringing wider benefits for the economy, the environment and rural communities. It provides the major financial vehicle for protecting and enhancing the environment and securing a range of public benefits for society. Defra is the Managing Authority.

The RDPE has three priorities for rural development:
    1. Improving competitiveness of the agriculture and forestry sectors
    2. Improving the environment and the countryside 
    3. Improving the quality of life in rural areas and encouraging diversification of economic activity
In this region, the South West RDA will deliver priorities 1and 3 with a budget of £156.8 million over the seven years. The RDA is also responsible for ensuring that five per cent of the RDPE funding is spent on enabling community involvement in rural development.  The delivery partners in the South West aim to ensure that investment in each of the three priorities will help support investment in the others.
The RDPE priority for improving the environment and the countryside is being delivered nationally by the Forestry Commission’s Woodland Grant Scheme and Natural England’s Environmental Stewardship Scheme.    In addition, a minimum of 5% of the programme will be delivered through a local community-led approach.

The aims, objectives and priorities for delivering RDPE in South West England were agreed for the socio-economic investments with regional partners and these are set out in the Regional Implementation Plan. On the basis of a thorough analysis of South West England’s rural characteristics and economy, the Plan sets out eight themes:
i. Skills development
ii. Social enterprise
iii. Business support
iv. Supply chain and adding value
v. Resource management (soil, water, energy, waste)
vi. Sustainable rural tourism
vii. Biodiversity and landscape
viii. Community-led development
Further more information on the RDPE and the schemes see
Organisations involved in delivering RDPE 
The South West RDA leads the development of a sustainable economy, investing to unlock the region's business potential. It works in partnership with public, private and social purpose organisations to drive up the region's productivity by giving people the skills they need, encouraging enterprise, improving infrastructure, regenerating places and promoting the strengths of the region. For more information see
Natural England works for people, places and nature to conserve and enhance biodiversity, landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban, coastal and marine areas. It conserves and enhances the natural environment for its intrinsic value, the wellbeing and enjoyment of people, and the economic prosperity it brings. For more information see  Environmental Stewardship (ES) was launched in 2005, builds on the very best practice already evident in British farming. During the period 2007-13 the national budget for ES will be £2.9 billion. The objectives of ES are to: 
  Conserve wildlife (biodiversity). 
  Maintain and enhance landscape quality and character. 
  Protect the historic environment and natural resources. 
  Promote public access and understanding of the countryside. 
  Natural resource protection.